review by Sylvie Bower, age 16

The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes

    The Arsonist is the story of Ava, Molly, and Pepper. Ava Dreyman is a world-famous martyr of the Cold War, whose life and possibly death are memorialized in her diary. Molly Mavity is the daughter of a murder-arsonist about to be executed, who is convinced her mother is alive and sending her clues about the mystery of her disappearance. Pepper al-Yusef has failed high school, and must write twelve essays to convince the school why he should be allowed to move on, but he’s still not really sure what an essay really is. These three individuals’ lives are impossibly entangled, but Molly, Pepper, and Bertrand, a fat seizure pug, are determined to solve this heaping mystery.
    I went into this novel completely blind, and expecting nothing, only knowing the fact that the cover was extremely gorgeous. I did not expect to have as much fun as I did, or even that it would only take a day to finish this novel, as I could not stop reading for the life of me. The characters are just so ordinary, but also people that I wish that I could have as my friends. I really enjoyed the relationship between Molly and Pepper, as A) for once it didn’t have to be romantic, and B) it really goes to show that you connect with anyone, no matter what divides you. Oakes weaves a highly intricate mystery across the globe, and across so many people’s lives, and she does this magnificently. I was worried as I was reading this that she had set the bar too high, and that the book wouldn’t manage to tie everything together, but boy was I wrong. I love that this book touches on how one interaction can be meaningless to one person, but mean so much to another, and that people you hardly know can change your whole experience of life. While the book was slightly unreal, the root of it is something that I want everyone to apply to their own lives.
    I would recommend this novel to anyone in search of a good mystery, or even just anyone looking for something that you won’t find anywhere else. Stephanie Oakes is definitely an author to watch (go check out The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly if you haven’t already!) 4.5/5 stars.

Find this book in our catalog: The Arsonist

Catalog Number: On Call

493 pages


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